Report: Detroit Mayor's Chief Of Staff Ordered Emails Deleted Regarding Make Your Date

WWJ News
October 21, 2019 - 2:47 pm
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DETROIT (WWJ) - New information has been released regarding an investigation into alleged corruption in the City of Detroit.

The Office of Inspector General (OIG) on Monday released a report about its findings regarding the city allegedly giving preferential treatment to the non-profit Make Your Date Program, run by a woman with personal ties to Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan. 

The OIG said an "exhaustive investigation" has concluded with two key findings: 

  • Mayor Duggan "unilaterally selected" Make Your Date to receive help from the city instead of considering other agencies in a fair, open and transparent process.  
  • Mayor Duggan's Chief of Staff Alexis Wiley ordered some city workers to delete emails pertaining to the Make Your Date program.  

“Of the above-referenced key findings, we find the latter to be more egregious conduct for the reasons stated in this summary. The very fact that they were ordered to be deleted alone casts a shadow over transparency,” stated Inspector General Ellen Ha.  

Ha told WWJ's Jon Hewett such conduct is "disturbing" and an "abuse of authority." 

"To have someone order to delete emails on a particular subject matter is very disturbing," said Ha; adding, however, that investigators do not believe that Duggan himself ordered the emails deleted.

Read a copy of the OIG's report HERE

The OIG launched its probe after a Detroit Free Press investigation found the program received $358,000 in city grants and benefited from a fundraising campaign.

Duggan has denied any wrongdoing.

"The most important conclusion of the OIG is that there was no violation of any policies, procedures or laws, and that there was no conflict of interest," Duggan told WWJ following the report's release. 

Duggan said the emails were deleted in an effort to keep staff members from being pulled into the growing publicity surrounding the Make Your Date program, and Duggan's relationship with it's director, Dr. Sonia Hassan.

"The report is clear that their motives were to keep the two junior staff people's names out of the whole media show," Duggan said. "I wish they hadn't done it -- it was a mistake -- but they did it for reasons that they thought were right." 

Duggan stressed that the emails contained "nothing problematic."  

In a legal filing last week, attorneys for the city wrote: "To be sure, the directive to delete the emails may have been an error in judgment. It may have fallen short of best practices regarding government transparency and openness."

Wiley released the following statement regarding her part: "I have spent my life building a career based on integrity. In my 10 years as a reporter and 6 years in government, my integrity has never once been questioned. I would never knowingly do anything that would jeopardize or undermine that. When interviewed by the Office of the Inspector General, I was truthful and I stand by my statements. Needless to say, I strongly disagree with the OIG findings."

The mayor, who is out of town, said he is planning a news conference for Tuesday. 

The Office of Inspector General is an independent agency charged with ensuring honesty and integrity in the city.  Its jurisdiction is limited by the city charter to investigate matters concerning abuse, waste, fraud and corruption. 

A seperate investigation by the Michigan Attorney General's Office into the city's dealings with the Make Your Date Program is ongoing.